Dun & Bradstreet CEO Robert Carrigan Steps Down; Q4 Earnings

DNB Hoov Company Profile of DNB
Dun & Bradstreet’s company profile displayed within their D&B Hoover’s product.

Last week, Dun & Bradstreet CEO Robert Carrigan resigned as CEO, board member, and Chairman.  In his absence, Thomas Manning has been appointed Chairman and interim CEO.  Manning has been a board member since 2013 and Lead Director since 2016.  He previously served as the CEO of Cerberus Asia Operations & Advisory Limited, CEO of Capgemini Asia, and CEO of Ernst & Young Consulting Asia. He was also a senior partner with corporate strategy firm Bain & Company where he led the global IT practice in Silicon Valley and Asia.

No reason was given for Carrigan’s departure beyond that it was a mutual decision.

“Over the last four years we have made progress transforming this company. We’ve improved our data and analytics, developed solutions and capabilities to serve new customer use cases, and modernized our products and platforms.  The Board is confident in the strategic direction of the Company, and fully believes that this business can deliver sustainable mid-single digit revenue growth and expanding margins.  Our number one priority is accelerating value creation for shareholders.”

  • Dun & Bradstreet Chairman and interim CEO Thomas Manning

However, the company is not growing revenue and profits quickly enough.  To address the slow growth, the firm engaged McKinsey & Company two months ago in a strategic and operational review “to help us find ways to speed up the time to realize value,” said Manning.  “The first phase of their work validated our strategy and identified barriers to growth and cost opportunities. The next phase of their work will include a full portfolio and business assessment and we are open to considering all options for value creation that may be identified.”

McKinsey validated the basic DaaS strategy around premium company, contact, and risk data.  McKinsey’s primary concern was the “breadth of our offerings and distribution channels” which increased the level of operational complexity.  The updated strategy will look to “simplify and streamline the business.”

Dun & Bradstreet is also looking to “apply more specialization to our selling activities as we go deeper into the sales and marketing space,” said Manning.  “As we expand our sales and marketing value proposition from being primarily a static data supplier to becoming a dynamic player in the digital sales, marketing and advertising space, we are working to make sure that our organization, go-to-market strategy and processes are aligned with that goal.”

The firm hired David Godfrey, who previously ran Global Sales at Gartner, to oversee go-to-market strategy and execution.  He will be reporting into Manning.

James Fernandez, new Lead Director of the Board, said, “As Dun & Bradstreet continues its work to drive sustainable growth, the Board believes now is the right time to transition the Company’s leadership. We are pleased to have a leader of Tom’s caliber and experience to step in as interim CEO. The Board will continue to support the Company, and lend our expertise to the organization and Tom during this transition period as we conduct our search for a permanent successor.”

Q4 Earnings

Q4 earnings increased 3%, but only 1% organically, to $527 million.  Total revenue hit $1.75 billion in 2017 with 83% in the Americas.  The firm maintained expense discipline resulting in a ten-basis point improvement in margins while investing $40 million on initiatives which “transform our technology platforms in order to meet our customers’ modern-day needs,” said CFO Richard Veldran.  “Modernizing delivery of our solutions is a critical component of our strategy.”

Data-as-a-service delivery continues to increase.  Nearly 30% of Americas revenue came via as-a-service solutions “which makes our data stickier and more useful for our customers and drives higher-value revenue.”

Amongst the 2017 initiatives were upgrades to D&B Credit and new D&B Optimizer solutions for Salesforce and Microsoft.

Deferred revenue was up 3% year over year before M&A activity and currency adjustments.  Growth was attributed to D&B Credit, D&B Hoovers Q4, and the D&B Direct API.  President and COO Josh Peirez noted that the D&B Credit Suite revenues were no longer declining and that the company is well-positioned in D&B Credit, D&B Hoovers, and D&B Direct.

“We think we’re well-positioned to address the competitive challenges.  We’re also pleased that McKinsey has validated that opportunity and that strategy and helping us to make sure that we are packaging and bundling these things properly.”

  • Dun & Bradstreet President & COO Josh Peirez

Taxes, which were 31.4% in 2017, are expected to drop to the mid-20s due to the US corporate tax reforms.  The reforms will also allow the firm to repatriate $265 million to reduce debt levels.

No guidance was provided as the firm is beginning their operational review.  Veldran promised more details on the Q1 call.

Dun & Bradstreet raised its quarterly dividend by two cents to $0.5225 per share.

The market reacted very positively to the announcements, driving Dun & Bradstreet’s stock price up nearly 8% after the earnings call.

Segment Growth

Sales & Marketing Solutions (S&MS) rose 4% in the Americas to $240.1 million in Q4.  Growth was led by Sales Acceleration products which rose 9% to $84.3 million.  For the full year, Sales Acceleration grew 10% to $288.4 million in the Americas with the Avention acquisition contributing twelve points of growth.  Legacy Hoover’s drove down organic Sales Acceleration revenue with traditional Hoovers revenue declining by mid-single digits.

Revenue for the new D&B Hoovers service (Dun & Bradstreet content delivered through the Avention platform) increased in 2017.  However, the decline in revenue from the Data.com partnership will result in a decline in 2018 Sales Acceleration revenue.  Data.com generated around $50 million in revenue in 2017 with the firm continuing to sell through August 2017, resulting in a flat year.  Veldran projects a $15 million decline in Data.com revenue.  Dun & Bradstreet is looking to recapture some of that decline as new D&B Hoovers and D&B Optimizer for Salesforce contracts.

Peirez is quite pleased with the trajectory of the D&B Hoovers business.  “We think our products are far better than anything else in market. We continue to see the overwhelming majority of customers that are buying our D&B Hoovers product buying the higher level of the product with the integrations to CRM, so that’s extremely encouraging for us.”

The firm is also moving to migrate its Hoover’s customer base over to D&B Hoovers.  In Q4, more than ten percent of the legacy base moved to the new platform as Dun & Bradstreet “started to move very aggressively in getting the customers upgraded,” said Peirez.  While the D&B Hoovers Suite grew low-single digits in its first year, Peirez expects growth to accelerate in year two.  The company has told users that the legacy platform will be phased out at the end of the year.

Advanced Marketing Solutions grew 2% in Q4 to $155.8 million in the Americas.  For the full year, growth was 2% to $383.9 million.  While revenue was up mid-single digits in H2, the product line was weighed down by H1 weakness.

Outside the Americas, S&MS grew 17% to $16.9 million in Q4.  For the year, S&MS non-Americas revenue rose 18% to $60.4 million.  Growth was driven by Sales Acceleration products, including the acquired Avention product line.  Sales Acceleration products jumped up 24% to $7.5 million in the quarter and 39% to $27.7 million for the year.

The D&B Hoovers Suite rose 26% to $42.6 million in the Americas in Q4 and 22% to $166.5 million.  Outside of the Americas, D&B Hoovers Suite rose from $0.6 million to $5.3 million in Q4 and $3.1 million to $16 million.  While the classic Hoover’s product line had little overseas sales, the new D&B Hoovers product line, built on the Avention platform, benefited from a longstanding presence in the UK, Singapore, Australia, and India.

Dun & Bradstreet Announces Deal with SFDC for Data.com Transition


Optimizer for Salesforce supports Account Segmentation by Revenue, Employees, Industry, and Location.
Optimizer for Salesforce supports Account Segmentation by Revenue, Employees, Industry, and Location.

For the past nine months, there has been great ambiguity around the future of Data.com, a pair of AppExchange services which combine the old Jigsaw contact file with Dun & Bradstreet account and industry intelligence.  Salesforce has remained mum throughout with Dun & Bradstreet providing details on their earnings calls.

Dun & Bradstreet CEO Bob Carrigan announced that Dun & Bradstreet and Salesforce will be offering a path forward for Data.com clients. In August, Salesforce Data.com stopped offering D&B content for new clients, but legacy clients continued to receive D&B WorldBase, Hoovers, and First Research insights. However, the long-term direction of Data.com remained ambiguous as service revenues declined due to “natural attrition.” Carrigan announced that the two firms have agreed on a transition plan to migrate Data.com customers to D&B Hoovers and the new D&B Optimizer for Salesforce.

D&B Hoovers represents a significant upgrade for Data.com Prospector customers as they will receive deeper global company and contact coverage than before. Users will have access to a deeper set of global contacts, a broader set of screening variables, and company intelligence including financials, filings, SWOTs, news, sales triggers, and alerts.

Optimizer for Salesforce will launch next week at Dreamforce where Dun & Bradstreet will have a larger presence than in previous years. Product specifics were not provided on the call, but some details were posted on the AppExchange Lightning Data site. D&B Optimizer offers a data management dashboard, account record matching using DUNSMatch logic across eighty variables, segmentation analysis (revenue, employees, industry and location), family tree linkage opportunities, duplicate record management, and out of business flagging.  Updates are made every fifteen days.

D&B Optimizer creates “virtual corporate family trees”
D&B Optimizer creates “virtual corporate family trees”

Optimizer for Salesforce is listed at $22 per user per month, $3 less than Data.com Clean.  It is currently available in the US and UK.

“For organizations to grow, they need actionable and complete data across the entire business to ensure that timely and informed decisions are being made.  D&B Optimizer for Salesforce provides Salesforce customers the ability to get the data they want, when and where they need it, directly within their Salesforce instance. This leads to increased productivity and, ultimately, growth for their businesses.”

  • Derek Slayton, General Manager of Sales and Marketing LOB, Dun & Bradstreet

Not only will Salesforce assist with transitioning clients, but they will also be referring prospects to Dun & Bradstreet. Dun & Bradstreet will recognize the full revenue from these products and own the customer relationships going forward, providing them with greater control over the product, increased revenue, and an end to their disintermediated status on the AppExchange.

According to Dun & Bradstreet CFO Richard Veldran, Salesforce revenue is “in the neighborhood of $50 million, because they’re not selling new on their side.” In the short term, that revenue will decline due to “natural attrition.” However, as customers are converted to D&B solutions, the firm will no longer be on a revenue share basis with Salesforce, resulting in in a revenue upswing.  It should be noted, though, that subscription revenue is ratable over the term of the contract so there will be a delay in this revenue recognition.

Lightning Data from SFDC

The new Lightning Data services on the AppExchange.
The new Lightning Data services on the AppExchange.

Salesforce announced the launch of two new AppExchange partnership categories offering native Lighting functionality: Lightning Bolts and Lightning Data. Bolts are Lightning Components which offer customer data and business logic.

Lightning Data provides new Data as a Service (DaaS) partnerships in the wake of the non-renewal of the Dun & Bradstreet – Data.com licensing partnership. Three of the partners were announced as Data.com Exchange partners at last year’s Dreamforce:

  • Bombora intent data enrichment
  • HG Data technology product / vendor data enrichment
  • MCH Strategic Health Care data

Salesforce did not list the Lightning Data partners, but the following additional vendors are part of the new ecosystem:

  • InsideView Discovery account prospecting and InsideView Append account enrichment
  • DataFox account enrichment
  • Clearbit account enrichment

Initially, Lightning Data only supports ongoing match and enrichment services for Account records. As many AppExchange partners offer batch and continuous services for Account, Contact, and Lead records, Lightning Data will need to round out its enrichment capabilities for it to become a full hygiene and enrichment solution.


Lightning Data is an indication that Salesforce never really bought into the idea of being a DaaS company. Since August 2011, they have promoted Data.com, but never fully committed to the data ecosystem they promised when they launched Data.com. The original idea was to take the Jigsaw file they purchased in April 2010 for $142 million and integrate it with the D&B WorldBase company file. They were then going to partner with other leading data companies to integrate third-party data matched to either Data.com contact intelligence or D&B Account intelligence. These data sets were to be delivered via Data.com Prospector sales intelligence and the Data.com Clean match and append service.

It was the right idea at the right time. They were playing catch up with OneSource for Salesforce, InsideView for Salesforce, and Access Hoovers, but had the technical and financial resources to quickly leapfrog these offerings (Access Hoovers was phased out as part of the D&B deal). Furthermore, they had a first mover advantage in cross-selling Data.com to their customer base. It could have been a home run, but they rarely hit the ball out of the infield. What’s worse:

  • The Jigsaw file was never truly internationalized. It remained a U.S. contact file with underwhelming executive coverage for nine other countries.
  • The Data.com contact counts increased, but only because they were adding contacts at the same rate as they were decaying. Meanwhile, their top two contacts competitors, NetProspex and Zoominfo, continued to expand both their active and inactive coverage in the U.S. and internationally.
  • They never added biographic details or social links to the contacts file
  • Prospector features remained underwhelming. They would add small features such as improved industry and geographic screening, but not anything significant until 2016.
  • They quickly dropped all discussion about an ecosystem.

Then at Dreamforce 2015 and 2016 they seemed to have found their mojo, addressing key weaknesses such as pricing, sales intelligence (Hoovers profiles, First Research industry overviews), and a data ecosystem.

Data.com hit a few doubles and outlined an aggressive 2017 and 2018 roadmap. It looked good. It sounded good. But then Salesforce severed their partnership with Dun & Bradstreet and now only legacy customers have access to Dun & Bradstreet content. For everybody else, there were nine months of deafening silence until yesterday’s announcement of Lightning Data.

The devolution of Data.com will not have a significant effect on Salesforce’s bottom line as it represents perhaps one percent of company revenue (hence, the lack of urgency in replacing Dun & Bradstreet content). Furthermore, the legacy offering will continue to be supported for several more years so the revenue decline will have little material impact. Perhaps we’ll hear about replacement content at Dreamforce, but Lightning Data suggests they are leaving B2B DaaS to partner companies.

Tomorrow I will be covering changes to the AppExchange along with additional details on the Lightning Data solution.

Openprise Data Market

Openprise launched a Data Marketplace to assist with ingesting and normalizing third-party B2B and B2C data. Amongst the platforms supported are Salesforce, Marketo, Eloqua, and Pardot. The Data Marketplace, part of the Openprise Data Orchestration platform, includes built-in rules to ensure data is properly onboarded. Users can set primary, secondary, and tertiary providers with multi-vendor data normalization rules.

“We’re excited to make ZoomInfo’s 210 million businesspeople and 11 million businesses available on the Openprise Data Marketplace,” said Phil Garlick, VP Corporate Development at ZoomInfo. “Openprise’s data cleansing and unification capabilities, combined with ZoomInfo’s data accuracy, provides marketing and sales teams with an unparalleled solution to run more effective campaigns.”

Other B2B Partners include InsideView, Orb Intelligence, Synthio (FKA Social123), and Dun & Bradstreet. Additional vendors are in the final certification stages. Openprise claims that new data providers can be setup in minutes.

Customers can extend pre-existing vendor contracts or take advantage of pre-negotiated discounts.

“Earlier this year, we surveyed 175 marketing professionals to identify data marketplace trends and published our findings in the B2B Data Market Industry Report,” said CEO Ed King. “We found that companies that worked with multiple data providers were much more likely to be satisfied with their third-party data, but those same companies expressed how much they struggled with pulling multiple providers’ data into their marketing and sales system of record while maintaining a consistent set of standards. Openprise Data Marketplaces solves this problem.”

Openprise polled marketers on which B2B data providers they have deployed. Source: "B2B Data Market Industry Report: 2017"
Openprise polled marketers on which B2B data providers they have deployed. Source: “B2B Data Market Industry Report: 2017”

The B2B Data Market Industry Report also asked which vendors were being deployed. The survey of 175 B2B marketers at firms with at least 200 employees found the top three vendors were Zoominfo (40%), InfoUSA (36%), and Data.com (35%). Surprisingly Sales Genie matched D&B/Hoovers amongst all of the surveyed marketers and exceeded it amongst enterprises.  InfoUSA rates were likely higher than the other firms as it offers both business and consumer data while Dun & Bradstreet/Hoovers and many of the other vendors offer strictly B2B data.

The most common use case for B2B data vendors is identifying additional contacts at target companies (62%). Marketers also looked to B2B companies to identify additional target accounts (52%) and append missing fields (50%). Only 37% were looking to B2B data vendors to cleanse their database.

The survey participants were well distributed across B2B industries with an over weighting to advertising / marketing.

2016 North American Market Size

2016 North American Sales Intelligence Market Sizing Model (Excel)

The Market Size of North American Sales Intelligence Vendors. Includes vendor product features, market share, and notes. GZ Consulting Copyright 2017.


Price Reduced ($750 ⇒ $500)

For the past few years, I have been sizing the North American Sales Intelligence Market.  This is the largest of the markets as Europe and AsiaPac are more fragmented (the UK is the only other mature market with Bureau van Dijk, Avention UK, Artesian Solutions, and DueDil offering full solutions).

In 2016, I estimated the market at $770 million with LinkedIn Sales Navigator as the top vendor.  While new firms continue to enter, the top ten firms (now eight following the 2017 acquisitions of Avention and RainKing) earn seven of every eight dollars in the industry.

I am making my market model available for license (See PayPal button at top) as an Excel spreadsheet.  It includes revenue numbers by company along with market share, key features, and notes.

The LinkedIn Market Share Section of the 2016 North American Sales Intelligence Market Sizing
The LinkedIn Market Share Section of the 2016 North American Sales Intelligence Market Sizing

I have also broken out two sub-categories: Predictive Analytics and Tech Sales Intelligence.  Predictive Analytics vendors continue to scuffle in the marketplace.  Last September, Gartner sized the global market at between $100 and $150 million.  I have gone back and forth on whether to include them in the larger sales intelligence space, but several of the sales intelligence vendors have added light predictive tools (e.g. Avention, DiscoverOrg, RainKing) while the predictive analytics companies have moved to add enrichment and provide more insights to sales reps.  As such, I see the two product categories moving towards each other so chose to include Lattice Engines, Leadspace, and similar firms.

The Tech Sales Intelligence category (e.g. DiscoverOrg, RainKing, Aberdeen, Corporate360) continues to show strong growth and makes up just over 15% of the market.  Both DiscoverOrg and RainKing have posted remarkable growth over the past few years and merged their efforts last month.  Post acquisition, they are the number three vendor in the space and may hit $120 million in 2017 revenue.  The new powerhouse has 4,000 customers and is looking to expand beyond technology sales to become a general purpose sales intelligence solution.

Acquiring RainKing should move DiscoverOrg well past Data.com (Salesforce) which will likely see declining 2017 revenue.  Salesforce has dropped the ball on Data.com.  They overpromised and under-delivered for years, relying on their ability to bundle the offering with other SFDC products.  As of last month, they are no longer able to deliver Dun & Bradstreet content (D&B WorldBase, Hoovers, and First Research) to new customers (legacy customers retain access).  Unless Data.com has a major content partner announcement at Dreamforce, it is likely to see significant revenue declines in 2017 and 2018 as customers switch to D&B Hoovers for Salesforce and other offerings.

Dun & Bradstreet re-established itself as the #2 vendor in the space with the January 2017 acquisition of Avention and the rebranding of Avention OneSource as D&B Hoovers.  Both companies have struggled to grow revenue with Avention growing slowly over the past few years and Hoovers declining.  However, infusing Avention products with Dun & Bradstreet content both reduces the underlying cost structure of Avention offerings and improves the depth and quality of the content.  Furthermore, Dun & Bradstreet has a much larger sales force which previously has lacked a credible global sales intelligence offering.  Hoovers classic generated nearly all of its revenue in the United States.  Over the next two years, expect to see significant revenue shift from Hoovers Classic to D&B Hoovers.

Three-Toed Sloth By Stefan Laube (Tauchgurke) - Public Domain.
Three-Toed Sloth By Stefan Laube (Tauchgurke) – Public Domain.

Finally, LinkedIn Sales Navigator has established itself as the clear number one vendor in market revenue.  The product didn’t exist five years ago and its competitors still tend to dismiss this gorilla in their midst.  How can they be missing the #1 vendor in the space?  Easy — the gorilla is well camouflaged and appears to be more of a three-toed sloth sleeping in the forest canopy.  Sales reps all use the freemium version of LinkedIn so give little thought to delve further when they ask “how are you obtaining your account intelligence today?” and the response is LinkedIn.  Thus, they enter LinkedIn as the competitor into their CRM, not Sales Navigator.  A few months later when they lose the opportunity, the rep then enters “no decision” into the CRM instead of recognizing a competitive loss.  I have been warning vendors in the space for years about this phenomenon, but they have failed to understand the threat of a gorilla that looks like a three-toed sloth.

N.B. Three-toed sloths inhabit Central and South America and gorillas Central Africa.  This is a metaphor.

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<img height=”1″ width=”1″ style=”display:none;” alt=”” src=”https://dc.ads.linkedin.com/collect/?pid=207554&fmt=gif” /><br />

2016 in Review: Sales Intelligence Connectors

Avention offers OneSource for CRM connectors for SFDC, MS Dynamics, and Oracle for Sales Cloud (Oracle connector shown)
Avention offers OneSource for CRM connectors for SFDC, MS Dynamics, and Oracle for Sales Cloud (Oracle connector shown)

Continuing on my discussion of Sales Intelligence enhancements in 2016, my next area of coverage is connectors which extend functionality into CRMs, MAPs, Google Chrome, etc.

Almost all Sales Intelligence vendors offer Salesforce.com connectivity as a baseline offering.  Some have limited functionality while others provide a fully integrated offering encompassing virtually all of their website features along with update features (e.g. Batch, continuous, “stare and compare”).

The following vendors launched or enhanced their CRM connectors:

  • Zoominfo released a new version of Zoominfo for Salesforce in February 2016. Features include on-demand updating, new contact matching, segmentation analysis, and new targeted contacts. Zoominfo stresses that all enrichment, analysis, and targeting are done via “one easy-to-use interface” without the need to export files to Excel.  Zoominfo for Salesforce also added integrated prospecting. Data may be shared bi-directionally between the services so users can check for duplicates before uploading prospects to SFDC.  Zoominfo also added custom mappings for all fields into its Salesforce connector and improved the company and contact lookup workflows.
  • Avention released OneSource for MS Dynamics and OneSource for Oracle Sales Cloud connectors which integrate Avention functionality into the Microsoft and Oracle CRMs. Features include I-frame display, “stare and compare” updates, custom variables, prospecting, and the Avention Journal.  Avention also rolled a series of enhancements into its CRM connectors. These include:
    • The automatic population of matched records, bypassing the “stare and compare” step for new accounts
    • Avention Journal filtering
    • Avention Journal list views (the default view is calendared)
    • Modify the Avention Journal viewing period
    • Contact filtering by job function, level, title, keyword, etc.
    • News filtering
    • DataVision tab (if licensed)
    • Salesforce Lightning support providing improved tablet usability and dynamic resizing.
    • Batch duplicate management on bulk uploads (ignore, create, update)
  • Data.com added a Prospect Insights view which can be accessed from Opportunity and Account Detail pages. A “See More Insights” button takes the user to additional business and financial details from Dun & Bradstreet. Company intelligence includes D&B WorldBase firmographics and linkage, Hoover’s top company descriptions and competitors, and First Research industry overviews including call prep questions and industry summaries.  Data.com also upgraded the Dun & Bradstreet company family view to the Lightning platform.
  • DiscoverOrg released CRM connectors for Talent Rover, Zoho, and Bullhorn. They also enhanced their Salesforce connector.
  • InsideView redesigned its Salesforce.com AppExchange user interface and launched Refresh which provides automated account cleansing within Salesforce.com.
  • RainKing improved Salesforce.com synchronization.
  • To improve the Salesforce experience, LinkedIn Sales Navigator is no longer requiring sales reps to manually identify which contacts should be downloaded from SFDC to Sales Navigator. Synchronization can be managed at the administrator level. While SFDC describes this as improved synchronization, it basically downloads leads and accounts to Sales Navigator. No LinkedIn member account or lead intelligence is uploaded or available for updating SFDC records. However, the system does flag which records are in SFDC so that reps can manually key information from LinkedIn to SFDC.  For example, sales reps may add tags (e.g. Qualified) and notes to leads and accounts with this information then synched with Salesforce.
  • Artesian redesigned its Salesforce and MS Dynamics connectors.  Among the new features are sales trigger filtering by topic and trigger sharing by email, social media, and Chatter.

One of the major trends in 2016 was the continued expansion of sales intelligence vendors into the marketing department.  Most commonly, this involved Marketing Automation Platform (MAP) connectors with Marketo and Eloqua (Oracle Marketing Cloud), though some vendors support other MAPs as well.

  • InsideView released an ABM solution in partnership with Marketo. The ABM solution is a bundle that includes products and data services to enable targeted account and contact selection, campaign execution, and measurement.
  • RainKing released connectors for Pardot and NetSuite
  • Avention released connectors for Oracle Marketing (Eloqua) and Marketo which support data enrichment, account insights, and predictive analytics. The new MAP connectors support three marketing use cases: web form enrichment, uploaded list matching via the OneSource platform, and prospect list building within OneSource. Lists built and enriched within OneSource are then fed to Eloqua or Marketo.

Several vendors built Chrome connectors in late 2015 or early 2016.  Chrome connectors build additional feature functionality into the Chrome browser, usually centering around the contextual display of company and contact information related to corporate websites and LinkedIn profiles.  Firms with Chrome Connectors include DataFox, MattermarkZoominfo, DiscoverOrg, and HG Data.

To assist with messaging, LinkedIn now offers a Chrome extension for Gmail. The extension provides integrated access to public LinkedIn profiles and social contact information as a right-handed information bar. If a contact is not in Sales Navigator, users can quickly add him or her as a lead without exiting the Inbox. Icebreakers such as shared connections, experiences, and interests help shape account or prospect messaging. TeamLink colleague connections are also displayed.

Finally, several Sales Intelligence vendors began supporting Account Based Sales Development (ABSD) vendors (there are also non-SI vendors participating in ABSD ecosystems providing coaching, transcription, analytics, and other services):

  • DiscoverOrg: SalesLoft, Outreach, Tellwise
  • Owler: Outreach, SalesLoft
  • InsideView: KiteDesk, Quota Factory, SalesLoft
  • Zoominfo: KiteDesk
  • D&B NetProspex: KiteDesk
The Owler news feed is now displayed within SaleLoft allowing sales development reps to quickly customize their messaging.
The Owler news feed is now displayed within SaleLoft allowing sales development reps to quickly customize their messaging.


2016 in Review: Sales Intelligence UIs

InsideView for Sales Company Profile (New UI)

Over the past few days, I’ve been discussing enhancements made to the 14 sales intelligence services covered in my new book, 2017 Field Guide to Sales Intelligence.  On Monday, I discussed content enhancements and on Tuesday I covered functionality.  Wednesday was supposed to be user interfaces, but Dun & Bradstreet dropped a bombshell and acquired Avention, so the UI discussion was bumped a day.

There are two approaches to UI enhancements: Big Bang and Incremental.  With the big bang approach the entire product is refreshed.  Such a project is a major endeavor and often involves a completely new look and feel to the service and upgraded workflows and design elements.  It may also involve new standards such as responsive design in support of mobile devices.

Big Bang

One example of broad product redesigns are the new interfaces found in Bureau van Dijk’s Orbis and Fame products.  These products focus on financial analysis and account research.  New design elements included a navigation bar, a contemporary UI, faster list building, new report types, shared information sets (e.g. reports, lists searches), and new analytical tools.

Unfortunately,Bureau van Dijk has not indicated any plans for addressing the old-fashioned Mint sales intelligence user interface.

Another example of redesign is InsideView which refreshed its user interface for its web browser and CRM connectors.  The browser changes were relatively minor, but the CRM connectors had a broader set of design and workflow upgrades.

DiscoverOrg also redesigned their user interface at the beginning of 2016 (it was in beta in 2015).  In February 2016, DiscoverOrg released a new platform designed with better speed, performance, and scalability. It included a new UI and enhanced features:

  • Streamlined prospecting against 62 variables across five broad categories: companies, employees, technology products, location, and triggers. The new UI immediately presents an updated result list as variables are selected. The same selects are available across three results views: companies, contacts, and triggers.
  • Export of contacts as profiles or as VCF
  • Company and contact notes
  • Suppression of companies or contacts when prospecting (e.g. suppress named accounts from lists for territory reps).
  • Admin user management and usage reporting
  • Ability to toggle between multiple departments on the same page (depending on subscription)
  • Ability to follow a company or contact with update alerting, including if they leave a company and reappear in the database under another profiled company (a unique DiscoverOrg capability)
  • Customizable dashboard based on followed lists
  • Contact profiles include previous job history and education
  • Company profiles include lists of current employees and recently departed staff.

RainKing went through a rebranding exercise which included a refreshed user interface. The platform has faster response times, improved searching, and an expanded technology taxonomy.

Zoominfo repackaged its service as the Zoominfo Growth Acceleration Platform for sales and marketing effectiveness. The new platform helps sales and marketing teams “identify, connect, and engage with qualified prospects and replicate success.” The Growth Acceleration Platform is a cross-product branding that supports company and executive searching, list building, file enrichment, and data Insights (segmentation analysis and persona identification).


The second approach is more incremental.  Instead of changing the overall look and feel of the platform, workflow and layout improvements are made to a set of contained tools.  For example, list building is a contained functional category.  Upgrades to prospecting workflows do not impact the whole product, but are focused in a functional subset, allowing the upgrades to be compartmentalized.

Avention took an incremental approach to workflow with redesigns of their active homepage, build a list, and watchlists. The Build a List user interface was redesigned to improve usability while expanding to 150 selects. Lists may now be exported to Salesforce, MS Dynamics, Oracle for Sales, Marketo, and Eloqua.  New list management features include rename, pin to desktop, delete, modify criteria, and clone list.

The Avention active home page is now customizable with users able to drag and drop information tiles.   There is also an improved SmartList tile display and onboarding tiles containing product tips.

Expanded notification functionality allows Avention reps to manage new company and sales trigger alerts from a centralized location. This Watchlist supports filtering by read/unread notices, priority flag, trigger type, and list. A new flag allows users to flag notifications as important.

Likewise, Data.com originally launched the Dun & Bradstreet family trees in the classic UI, but implemented the Lightning UI for family tree viewing.  The family tree information mashes together the Dun & Bradstreet global family tree (e.g. linkages, location type, city, country, revenue, and employees) with Salesforce.com account intelligence including whether the location is already an account and the name of the account owner.  Users may expand or collapse nodes and add an account via clicking on a Plus button.

Owler improved the user interface for their advanced search (Build a List). They also added selects for area code and ZIP/Postal Code.


Unlike content and functional upgrades, one would not want to have annual UI upgrades as they require customers to relearn key elements of the service.  There is value to both stability and change (a fact which is true of both product design and life in general).  If a platform goes too long without a refresh, it becomes stale and fails to leverage new browser and mobile device capabilities.  Furthermore, as new content and features are added to a platform, it can become overly busy and illogical.  Conversely, a platform which changes its design elements and workflow too often will frustrate users.  There are benefits in knowing how to efficiently complete a task or where to find specific information.  Change should never be simply for change sake.